Race against time for Skarv start-up

Technical issues: the Skarv FPSO

BP is facing a race against the clock to bring on stream stalled first production from its troubled Skarv field project in the Norwegian Sea by the end of the year.

However, a spokesman for the British supermajor said start-up of oil and gas output from the field’s floating production, storage and offloading vessel is now “imminent”, despite continued weather-related challenges.

“The top priority is to achieve a safe start-up,”BP’s Jan Erik Geirmo told Norwegian state TV channel NRK.

Production from Skarv was originally scheduled to start in August 2011 but has been repeatedly delayed by bad weather as high waves have prevented installation of risers on the vessel.

The project has also been plagued by time-consuming repairs to the FPSO’s turret, delivered by Dutch contractor SBM, as well as supply bottlenecks for critical equipment and strike action earlier this year.

Furthermore, BP is now facing an estimated overrun of Nkr11.5 billion ($2 billion) – or more than 32% - compared with the original budget for the scheme due to changes in the design and construction of subsea installations, as well as delays in construction of drilling facilities and longer-than-expected installation time for risers and other equipment.

Difficult weather conditions continue to dog final preparation and testing work being carried out by around 100 workers onboard the FPSO ahead of the rescheduled start-up.

While the vessel’s 13 risers have now been installed in the turret, the BP spokesman said high waves were preventing offloading of equipment from supply boats, while helicopter flights were cancelled due to strong winds.

He believed workers would be able to take onboard the necessary supplies to continue with their work, but still could not specify a precise time for start-up.

”We cannot say anything concrete but the goal remains to start production before the end of the year. People are now working flat out to test everything from alarm systems to possible leakages,” he said.

BP is targeting an initial production rate of 80,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from the field, which holds about 104 million barrels of oil and condensate, and 42.1 billion cubic metres of gas.

The UK giant operates the field with a 23.835% interest with partners Statoil (36.165%), E.ON Ruhrgas (28.0825%) and PGNiG (11.9175%).

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